A Thai friend who is Filipino

20 10 2009

When I first came to USF four years ago from Thailand, I met a person who took me through the orientation, registration, etc. He spoke to me in Thai, and I had no doubt that he was Thai, just like me. However, one day I heard him saying a different language, a strange one that I have never heard before, so I asked him what language you were speaking. He answered me that he was speaking Tagalog. This was the first time I had an experience with Filipino culture. His name is Mike.

Long after I met him, he told me about his background and his family. His mother is Filipino and his father is Thai. Mike was born in Quezon City in the north of the Philippines. He stayed in the Philippines until he was 7. I learned that schools in the Philippines use English as a main language to teach, unlike Thailand, where we use Thai as a main language. Mike speaks three languages: English, Thai, and Tagalog. I learned that he only uses Tagalog when he talks to his mother, but he uses English to speak with other people.

Mike explained to me that most Filipinos are Roman Catholics, and his mother also is a Catholic. However, because Thailand’s main religion is Buddhism, and his father is Buddhism, he found that he was baptized as a Catholic and also go to the Buddhist temple with his father. After he moved to Thailand, his exposure to Filipino cultures was reduced to only how his mother teaches him about Filipino culture. Even though Mike spends most of his time in Thailand, he also goes back to the Philippines occasionally and considered it as his second home.

Because of Mike, I learned a little bit of Filipino cultures like food and a bit of Tagalog. I started to know a fast food chain called “Jollibee,” which serves a juicy fried chicken with a warm gravy and white rice. I started to notice some of the Filipino food that he took me and the friends of ours to eat, for instance, pancit palabok, halo halo, leech flan. I found the similarities between Filipino food such as sinigang and Thai food such as tom yum. Both of them resemble the sour flavor, but tom yum has a more spicy flavor.

From a Thai (with Chinese ancestors) guy who does not know anything about the Philippines except that it locates at the same latitude as Thailand, and Filipinos look like Thai people from the north eastern region. I learned a lot more about Filipino cultures when I met a friend who I called “A Thai friend who is Filipino.”

-Paween Itthipalkul

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